Learning StylesThroughout our lives, we are faced with many different learning experiences. Some of these experiences have made a better impact than others. We canattribute this to our learning style. A person’s learning style is the methodthrough which they gain information about their environment. Research is goingon all over the world to help explain learning styles. As teachers, it is ourresponsibility to learn about these different learning styles so that we canappeal to every type of learner in our classrooms.
Howard Gardner has elaboratedon the concept of learning style through what he calls “multipleintelligence’s” (Gardner 3). Understanding these intelligence’s will helpus to design our classrooms and curriculum in a way that will appeal to all ofour students. We may even be able to curb negative behavior by reaching studentsin a different way. If we implement activities that call upon the use of allthese “intelligence’s” (Gardner 2) we will get the best out of all of ourstudents (Santrock 311). Their grades will improve and they will retain moreinformation for a longer period of time.
Learning styles can also help us todetermine possible career paths so that we can help to steer children in theright direction. Discovering our own learning styles can potentially maximizeour own information processing and teaching techniques. Howard Gardner is aprofessor at Harvard who has studied the idea of intelligence in a way thatlinks research and personal experience (Traub 1). He began speaking about”multiple intelligence’s” in 1983. Since then, he has won a MacArthur”genius” grant, he has written books which have been translated into twentylanguages, and he gives about seventy-five speeches a year (Truab 1). His ideashave been backed and popularized by many groups seeking to reform the currenteducational system.
The idea is that we know a child who scores well on tests issmart, but that doesn’t mean a child who does not score well is not gettingthe information or is incapable of getting it (Traub1). Gardner’s goal is toturn what we normally think of as intelligence into a mere aspect of a muchwider range of aptitudes (Traub 1). Most of us believe that doing well in schoolrequires a certain amount of intelligence. School work usually focuses on onlytwo avenues of intelligence.
Traditional teaching focuses on verbal andmathematical skills. A person who is weak in both of these will probably dopoorly in school. Gardner suggests that their is eight different aptitudes or”intelligence’s” (Gardner 3). Each individual has the “eightintelligence’s” in various amounts. Our strengths and weaknesses in the”intelligence’s” influence how we learn (Gardner 5).
They may even affecthow successful we are in life. “Verbal- linguistic” is the first ofGardner’s proposed “intelligence’s” (Gardner). A linguistic learnerthinks in words. This person uses language to express and understand meaning(Gardner 24) Linguistic learners are sensitive to the meaning of words, theirorder, and their inflection (Gardner 24) This type of person uses writing toexpress themselves, often through poetry, stories, and letters. “Verballinguistic” (Gardner 24) learners are usually very skilled readers. Speakingis another strength that they possess.
Oral communication is used often forpersuasion and memorization (Gardner 133). They are often eloquent speakers andhave wonderfully developed auditory skills. This type of intelligence tends topick up foreign languages with ease. Identifying a “verbal linguistic”(Gardner 24) learner in your classroom is not difficult. Because of theirtalents at expressing themselves their class work will stand out.
They tend todo well at expressing themselves through writing. The will often speak theirmind and can easily explain an event that happened through words, both speakingand writing. Planning lessons that appeal to the “verbal linguistic”(Gardner 24) learner is very easy. The traditional curriculum appeals best tothis kind of learner.
They are very good at reading and writing which is alreadythe main method of teaching in most classrooms. Some activities that appeal tothis kind of learner are storytelling, writing essays, joking, debating, storyproblems, and crossword searches. These activities will allow the student to usewords to learn material and express what they have learned through words. The”visual spatial intelligence” has the ability to think in pictures (Gardner65). They perceive the visual world accurately and are able to think in threedimensional terms.
According to Gardner visual learners can easily recreatesomething that they have seen (Gardner 67). Art is usually a strong area for astudent who learns this way. Constructing things is another activity that comeeasily to this type of learner. They have a knack for turning ideas intoconcrete examples (Gardner 67). An example of this type of student is some onewho can bring an architectural design from their minds to paper and then into amodel.
A person strong in this type of “intelligence” (Gardner 133) has akeen awareness between space and objects. The student who learns best visuallywill most often sit near the front of the class. They need to see theteacher’s body language and facial expressions to fully understand the contentof a lesson. This type of learner learns best from visual display. Diagrams,illustrated text books, videos, flipcharts, and handouts are crucial to thelearning of this type of “intelligence” (Gardner 24) . Activities that thistype of learner will excel at include: creating collages and posters,storyboarding, painting, and photographing.
People who are strong in the”visual spatial”(Gardner 17) type of intelligence are indispensable when itcomes to professions. We rely on them to be aware of the big picture with theknowledge that each element relies on another. They seem to have an instinctualawareness of what is going on around them and are wonderful navigators,mechanics, engineers, architects, interior designers, and inventors. “Bodykinesthetic” (Gardner 88) learners have the ability to control body movementsand handle objects skillfully (Gardner 88).
These learners express themselvesthrough movement. They have a good sense of balance and hand eye coordination. Interacting with the space around them is the way that the “bodykinesthetic”(Gardner 144) learner processes information. This learning styleinvolves a sense of timing and coordination.
Michael Jordan, for example wouldmost likely have a well developed “body kinesthetic intelligence” (Gardner144). His ability to move quickly across a basketball court, while dribbling aball, with a roaring crowd, while processing the whereabouts of five opponentsand four teammates shows that there is a specific intelligence in his movementand perception of the basketball court’s layout (Santrock 292). The “bodykinesthetic” (Gardner 2) learner can often be a handful in the classroom. As astudent it may be difficult for this person to sit still. This learner will dobest if they are able to work while moving around or standing.
This type oflearner will do well with activities that involve acting out skits, directingmovement, and playing charades. They will often excel in physical education anddelight at becoming involved with sports. “Logical mathematicalintelligence”(Gardner 6) is another intelligence that is already heavilyimplemented in our current school system. It involves the ability to usenumbers, logic, and reason .
These learners think conceptually, in logic andnumber patterns (Gardner 112). They are often able to perform complexmathematical problems. This type of intelligence involves deductive andinductive reasoning skills, as well as critical and creative problem solving(Gardner 122). Children who use logic and mathematics as a primary way oflearning tend to be obvious in the classroom.
This child will ask a lot ofquestions and enjoys doing experiments. They will often excel in mathematics andscience. Finding ways to help this person succeed in language arts and socialstudies can often be a challenge. This person will do well if we help them tofocus on categorizing information. Grouping concepts together and then finding arelationship between them will help this type of intelligence to understandconcepts not related to math or science. Helping a child master these techniqueswill no doubt help them tackle issues in their everyday life.
“MusicalRhythmic” (Gardner 121) learners have the ability to produce and appreciatemusic. These musically inclined learners think in rhythms, sounds, and patterns. They immediately respond to music either appreciating or criticizing what theyhear. Many of these learners are extremely sensitive to environmental soundssuch as; crickets, dripping, bells, and trains (Santrock 345). They are alsovery sensitive to patterns and pitch in sound.
“Musical rhythmic” (Garnder121) learners are able to recognize, create, and recreate sound using theirvoice or instruments (Gardner 125). An understanding of the connection betweenmusic and emotions is prevalent in these types of learners (Gardner 125). Identifying a person who is a musical learner can be tricky. They often play aninstrument and are involved in some kind of extracurricular activity involvingmusic. This type of learner will recreate a sound by tapping on their desk orhumming the tune. Accommodating this type of leaner in the classroom can bechallenging for teachers.
This person will benefit from being able to bringmusic in to their lessons. Their homework may include writing songs aboutperiods of history and literary events. Musical learners may need to createsongs in order to memorize operations and sequences. They should be encouragedto make up songs to help them memorize things like planets and mathematicalformulas. Gardner is especially interested in the “musical intelligence” (Santrock354). Gardner himself had been a serious pianist and a composition student (Traub2).
His interests in the “musical intelligence” (Gardner 121) particularlyfocused on childhood (Santrock 354). Preschool children have the ability tolearn musical patterns easily, and they rarely forget them. (Gardner 77). Hepoints out that many adults can still remember tunes from when they were veryyoung. (Gardner 78).
“Intrapersonal intelligence” (Gardner 129) are learnerswho are very introverted. They are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. These types of learners use self knowledge to guide decision making (Gardner129). They have the ability to monitor one’s self in interpersonalrelationships and act with “personal efficacy” (Gardner 128).
They are awareof their feelings and are able to regulate their moods and emotional responses. (Gardner 110). I believe that I have a strong “intrapersonal intelligence”(Gardner 129). I have always been a very quiet person, but only on the outside. There is a whole lot of things going on inside my head. I plan my actions aheadof time, then act them out the way that I had planned.
Being intrapersonal, Ihave always been very selfish in a way. When I think of an struggle or issue Ialways decide what I would do, rather than put myself in someone else’s shoes. Having discovered this side of me I try to be more conscious of it and not letit rule my personality. A student who is an “intrapersonal learner” in theclassroom will often keep to themselves. (Gardner).
They will enjoy thinking andmeditating on ideas. These types of people are planners. Activities that willstimulate this type of intelligence include journal writing, fiction writing,and self assessments. They are very comfortable with their own feelings onsubjects and think things out very thoroughly. “Interpersonal or socialintelligence” (Gardner 138) identifies themselves through their relationshipwith other people (Gardner 138).
These people see things from other people’spoint of view in order to understand how they think and feel (Santrock 293). They often have the ability to sense feelings, intentions, and motivations. Organization is a key strength, although they sometimes resort to manipulationin order to make things run smoothly. This type of “intelligence” (Gardner139) is a born group leader and encourages cooperation. Their strengths lie inboth verbal and non-verbal language to open communication channels with people.
(Gardner 139). This type of person is often a great listener and practicesempathy for other people. The “interpersonal learners” (Gardner 140) are theleaders of the classroom. Problem solving is an attribute that will come inhandy when communicating with your classroom.
These learners are able tounderstand your role as the teacher as well as the plights of the students. Theywill do best working in groups or with partners. Activities such as reporting,interviewing, teaching, and choreographing are things that the interpersonallearner will excel in. The “interpersonal” (Gardner 140) person will do bestwith careers that involve working with people.
They are easily able to empathizewith situations and find the best solutions to problems. They are alsomanipulators who can persuade people in a different ways. Their skills incommunicating and understanding needs and motivation of people help them tobecome wonderful teachers, counselors, salespeople, politicians, andbusinessmen. The “naturalist” (Gardner 150) is the eighth and newestdeclared learning style. The “naturalist” (Gardner 150) has an understandingof the natural world. This person’s interest and understanding lies in plants,animals, and scientific studies (Gardner 155).
They are able to recognize andclassify individuals, species, and ecological relationships (Gardner 155). Interacting with living creatures comes easily to the naturalist. Gardner saysthat these types of learners have a certain skill for understanding animalbehavior, their needs, and characteristics. The “naturalist intelligence”(Gardner 156) will tend to have a green thumb and are able to grow plants withease.
In the classroom the “naturalist learner” (Gardner 156) will often bean observer. They will enjoy field trips to places like the zoo and to farms. They will often have collections of insects and rocks which they could sharewith the class. They will benefit from activities such as collecting leaves,growing plants, doing experiments, and participating in field studies. Cookingand home economic related activities can also be a strength for the”naturalist” (Gardner 156). One of the first interventions that can be usedby the classroom teacher to accommodate individual learning style of students ischanges in the classroom design.
Many classrooms are formal in design with allstudents facing front. . . in rows.
. . in desks. For the students whose preference isinformal this often is a hindrance to learning.
Offering optional seating ingroups, pairs, and on couches can accommodate individual learning preferencesand increase student success. Gardner believes that each of the intelligence’scan be destroyed by brain damage. According to Traub’s article, Gardnerstudied brain damaged patients at Boston’s Veterans Administration Hospital(Traub2). He found that patients who had profound damage to a main intellectualfunction, leaving them barely able to speak, could still recognize a metaphor oreven tell a joke (Traub 2). I recently saw a news segment on the actor DudleyMoore who has a disease that is deteriorating his brain.
He reported that he canno longer play the piano: “I can not bring the sounds from my head out throughthe piano” (ABC News). This is perhaps an example of how brain damage orneurological diseases can affect intelligence. Each of the intelligence’sinvolve unique cognitive skills and shows up in exaggerated fashion in both thegifted and idiot savants (Gardner 168). Studies are being done concerning autismand learning styles. It appears that people with autism are more likely to relyon only one style of learning.
Having worked with autistic children, I am ableto say that each autistic child has his or her own way of interacting with theworld. This can easily be translated into their primary learning style and canbe very helpful for those who work with autistic children. By observing theautistic person, one may be able to determine his or her primary learning style. For example , if an autistic child enjoys looking at books, watching television,and tends to look carefully at people and objects, then he or she may be avisual learner (Santrock 433). Once a person’s learning style is determined,then relying on this modality to teach can greatly increase the likelihood thatthe person will learn and possibly communicate.
Some people have problems withGardner’s theories about intelligence (Traub 3). Many say that there is noconcrete research behind Gardner’s ideas (Traub 5). The problem may lie in theterm “intelligence” (Traub 3). Intelligence is not often viewed as aconcept, but as a measurement, a term of value.
(Traub 3). Gardner says that hisuse of the word “intelligence” (Traub 3) is intentional. He chose tochallenge the traditional view of the concept of intelligence. There are manydifferent avenues available to help people discover their own learning style andassess their intelligence. Mainly there are questionnaires to help assess theway that people process information.
Looking through a few of the assessmentwhich can be found easily online, I found that they are pretty standard. Theycall for you to check statements that you find are true about yourself. Thesestatements are then put into their appropriate “intelligence” (Traub 3)category. The category with the most true statements is ranked as your strongestintelligence.
Each of the other intelligence’s are put in order accordingly. As teachers, we can quickly assess our students at the beginning of the schoolyear by performing a similar inventory. We can take the statements and re wordthem so that they appeal to a younger audience. We can also assign activitiesand let our children choose how they are going to present them. A fun activitythat is often used is “What I did over summer vacation”. The children areasked to present what they did over summer vacation.
They are able to presentthis any way they like and are given suggestions such as “Write a song aboutyour summer vacation” for the musical learner; “perform a skit about yourSummer vacation” for the “body kinesthetic” (Gardner 12) learner; and”tell us what you learned about yourself over your Summer vacation” for theintrapersonal learner. Getting to know the learning styles of the children inyour classroom at the beginning of the year will help you to plan yourcurriculum effectively for the rest of the year. Knowing about learning stylesand multiple intelligence is helpful for everyone, especially for people withlearning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. Although there is notconcrete research to back up Gardner’s theories; we know that using learningstyles in the classrooms is working. Knowing your own learning style and thelearning styles of your students will help to develop coping strategies,compensate for weaknesses, and capitalize strengths. It is every teacher’sduty to make the learning process a pleasurable one for all students; becomingfamiliar with the different learning styles will help us to do just that.
BibliographyGardner, Howard. Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1988 Santrock, John. Child Development. McGraw-Hill, 1998 Special Report on Dudley Moore. ChannelSeven News, ABC Network.
Nov. 1999 Traub, James. “Multiple IntelligenceDisorder”. The New Republic (1998). 5 pgs. 24 November 1999